someone explain this to me

standardized testRegarding the issue of standardized testing, I am honestly confused. Obviously at some point in the past, someone thought it was a brilliant idea. But in light of the countless real-life horror stories and studies about standardized testing that prove their detriment to students, I am unsure of how anyone who advocates for standardized testing is still around and can actually validate their side of the argument (though I’d be interested in hearing some substantiation of that position).

Personally, I see no benefits to this method of testing, and I am fairly certain that almost all educators and those well-versed on the matter would agree. So why are standardized tests even still being debated as a viable option for finding out how students are doing in school?

Standardized tests throw equity, individualization, differentiation, multiple intelligences, anti-oppressive education, creativity, multicultural learning, and critical thinking (so basically all of the educational foundations that I have learned in my program so far) out the window in exchange for an identical test (written by people who have most likely never met the students who will be taking it) that is handed out to vastly unique students with very different needs, which tests them on arguably irrelevant information that is to be memorized and regurgitated.

In regards to using standardized tests as a measure of accountability for teachers, I also see this as a huge failure. This is completely defeating the purpose of the teaching profession. Teachers should not be accountable for drilling information into their students’ heads, but rather on how well they feed their students’ minds and curiosities, and foster a joy of lifelong learning (which standardized testing does NOT do). Forcing teachers to cover material that is not of their choosing, only because their students will be evaluated on it later seems very backwards and is completely against my beliefs. We should never teach something simply for the sake of evaluating how well students retained the information, but to actually grant students with a useful life skill. Also, the misconception that all learned knowledge can or should be tested is also extremely flawed. In this day and age, only assessing through tests has no excuse, when so many other methods of evaluation exist and are more equitable.

I would also argue that the type of students that standardized tests seek to create (mindless memorizers that only focus on the facts, not why they actually matter) have less worth as members of society than engaged, socially responsible, creative, critical thinkers. When heading into the workforce or interacting with those around you, your value cannot be encapsulated on mere paper. We are human beings, not bubbles on a page. We are people, made up of personalities and experiences, memories and emotions. And by enforcing standardized testing, we are taking away that personal, deeply intimate, human connection aspect from the learning process and our students. Students should not be treated as numbers on a page; they are living beings with limitless potential, and I think THAT is how they should be treated.

In summary, from a future teacher’s perspective, I truly don’t see how standardized tests can still be viewed as a just method of assessing students, an efficient use of highly trained teachers’ time, or a fulfillment of educational goals as a whole.



3 thoughts on “someone explain this to me

  1. Ok, here’s my take on this complicated issue. I don’t think high stakes (mandated) standardized testing is mostly about educational goals. The heavy use of such testing is almost always born out of politics, and thus it’s more about political goals. I think this accounts in part for the incredible disconnect we as teachers feel. I’m not a fan of high stakes assessment either. But, I don’t think standardized assessment (not mandated and yet national normed) is a complete waste of time because I like to see how my students stack up against the “norm”. It helps me guide instructional decisions. That said, it’s only helpful to me as a guide. When assessment starts to dictate exactly (or close to exactly) what instruction should look like, then we’ve lost sight of educational goals and are assessing to serve politicians. What do you think?

    • Thanks for that perspective! I see the validity in curiosity of how your students stack up in comparison to the average. And you’re right, it is more of a political strategy than an educational one. But I feel that if this method did become mandated, and material to be taught was all strictly set out for teachers, this would be a lot more intrusive to educators’ practices than a random CAT test every few years that doesn’t actually contribute to students grades, but only serves as an indicator of what could be improved.

      • You’re absolutely right that it can be more intrusive! In most states (I’m in the US) it is more intrusive because it is mandated and even part of teacher evaluation. (I’m not sure what you will face in Canada.) Here what is taught is an ongoing tug of war between parents, publishers, politicians, school boards, administrators and teachers.

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